AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The first week of the third special session this year is nearly over, and so far, lawmakers have not yet passed any bills related to one of the biggest reasons the session was called: redistricting.
While lawmakers are working on redrawing our state’s maps behind closed doors, they were also able to pass several of the governor’s other agenda items this week in the Senate.
State senators passed a bill that would require Texas student athletes to participate in sports based on their biological sex largely along party lines, with only one Democrat voting for it.
“[The goal is] to provide fair, equitable and safety amongst biological females to compete in their own sport, and not have fear of a biological male competing in the same sport,” the bill’s author, Sen. Charles Perry (R – Houston), testified on the Senate floor.
Similar legislation has already died three times this year amid major pushback from the LGBTQ+ community.
“We get parents who tell us that their kids are self harming. We have parents who have left Texas already as a result of not trusting the state to keep their kids safe,” Ricardo Martinez with Equality Texas said earlier this month.
“I’m sensitive to the fact that they live in a way that unfortunately, people choose to treat differently than they should, we have laws on the books for that. But that’s not the purpose of SB 3,” Sen. Perry said when he was asked about the mental health of trans kids.
Senate Bill 1, a property tax relief measure, also passed the Senate chamber, with only one Senator voting against it.
It would divvy up $2 billion of the state’s surplus revenue in the form of property tax relief.
“What the bill is about is the concept of having an excess revenues, and giving some of those back to the taxpayers and especially in the form of badly needed property tax relief. I can think of no better use of excess funds,” the bill’s author, Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R – Houston), explained this week on the Senate floor.
The owner of a median home in Texas, which is right around $300,000, would save about $200 next year if the bill makes it to the governor’s desk.
Gov. Abbott already vetoed similar legislation to SB 5 during the regular session citing overcriminalization.
“This bill establishes a standard of care for dogs tethered outdoors,” Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., (D – Brownsville), explained this week. He said his staff has worked with the governor’s office to make the legislation more amenable to the governor.
“Splitting inclement weather out into its own definition, removing the words quote, ‘In a manner that does not allow for escape,’ from the definition of properly fitted. This is repetitive because it it is already required that the harness be designed for the size and weight of the dog,” Sen. Lucio explained.
All of these bills now await committee assignment in the House, where they would need to pass, and then pass on the House floor, before heading to the governor’s desk.